Rash of NM police shootings renews calls for reform
Albuquerque Police Department is already under federal investigation for a spike in shootings and excessive force claims
By Jeri Clausing
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A rash of police shootings across New Mexico over the past month is prompting renewed calls for reforms in law enforcement training and oversight.
Albuquerque police on Sunday shot and critically injured a man after a domestic call in what was the fourth shooting involving police in the state's largest city in just over a month. The Albuquerque Police Department is already under federal investigation for a spike in shootings and excessive force claims.
The shooting comes on the heels of four shootings in a similar time period by state police officers, including the case of an officer firing at a minivan full of children.
"We are like in the Wild West, aren't we?," said Jewel Hall, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center Board in Albuquerque and a leader of community activists and relatives of police shooting victims who have been calling for reform of the Albuquerque Police Department. "There is something wrong with this picture."
Albuquerque police have been involved in 33 shootings since 2010, including 19 in which suspects were killed. Critics have blamed the shootings on a departmental culture that fosters brutality, and the Department of Justice last year launched a civil rights probe of the agency. Five months later, Chief Ray Schultz announced his retirement after an eight-year tenure.
Police officials declined a request for an interview Monday about the latest shootings and renewed new calls for reform. The department in 2011 ordered a study of the department and made changes in oversight, training and hiring of officers in response to a rise in shootings and several high-profile abuse cases.
Police officials Monday had not released details on the condition of the suspect in the most recent shooting or whether he was armed.
The incident began when officers were called to a domestic disturbance, Acting Chief Allen Banks told reporters at the scene on Sunday. A conflict ensued and the suspect was critically injured after at least two officers fired shots. One of the officers did call out that the suspect had a gun, Banks said, but it was unclear if the man was armed or what threat prompted the officers to fire.
Banks also said the man had at least 12 felony warrants, but he did not release his name or any information about those warrants.
State police have also come under scrutiny after four recent cases of officers using deadly force, including the shooting of 39-year-old Jeanette Anaya following a chase on the streets of Santa Fe. State police said an officer began pursuing her for driving erratically, and that she was shot after being pulled over and backing her car toward the approaching officer.
Separately, two state police officers are under investigation for a chaotic traffic stop Oct. 28, when Oriana Farrell of Memphis, Tenn., drove off from police near Taos after being pulled over for speeding and refusing to sign her ticket. After being stopped again, another dispute occurred that involved shots being fired as she drove away. Farrell and her attorney have said she feared for her safety and that of her children.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
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